Annie Pokorny, 20, of Spokane was named the top college athlete at the U.S. National Cross Country Skiing Championships that concluded today (Jan. 8) on the Olympic courses at Soldier Hollow, Utah. She was one of four Eastern Washington skiers who delivered standout performances among the 300 athletes at the event.
Pokorny, a sophomore at Middlebury College in Vermont, won the “collegiate cup” as the top college athlete to participate in the event. She was competing against the country's top nordic skiers, with the exception of five women currently representing the U.S. Ski Team in Europe.
Pokorny's effort qualified her to ski for the U.S. at the World U-23 championships to be held in Liberic, Czech Republic at the end of January. She leaves for Europe Saturday, and will return in February to continue skiing for Middlebury. She plans to ski in the NCAA championships to be held at Middlebury in March.
Pokorny developed her skills as a teenager with the Spokane Nordic Junior Ski Team. She was named to the All Greater Spokane League Soccer Team in 2009 as she played for Lewis and Clark High School. But she moved to Sun Valley, Idaho, with her mother for her senior year where she could finish high school while devoting her sporting interests to nordic skiing.
Click "continue reading" for a summary of the top performances by Pokorny and Inland Northwest skiers Torin Koos of Leavenworth, Erik Bjornsen and his sister Sadie Bjornsen of Winthrop.
Sadie Bjornsen, Koos and Pokorny all have the distinction of winning top female or male titles as teenagers at the annual 10K Spokane Langlauf at Mount Spokane.
Summary of results for inland NW skiers at US nationals, Jan. 2-8, 2013
Torin Koos, 1st
Eric Bjornsen, 21st
Sadie Bjornsen, 2nd
Annie Pokorny, 26th
Men’s freestyle individual start 15 K
Women’s freestyle individual start 10 K
Men’s 30 K classic mass start
Women’s 20 K classic mass start
Dr. Al Pokorny, Annie's father, offered these observations about the U.S. National Cross Country Skiing Championships and the other Inland Northwest skiers:
Torin Koos grew up in Leavenworth/Wenatchee area, and called that home through his many years on the world cup circuit, skiing for the US ski team. He now skis for Bridger ski foundation in Bozeman. Looks like he probably has earned his way back to the World Cup.“US Nationals” may be a bit of a misnomer, as the best of the best on the US ski team are skiing the Tour de Ski in Germany (part of the World Cup Tour), so Nationals is missing about five women and three men, but otherwise all the top skiers from high school, college, and the “pros” (yes there are about 20-30 “professional” cross-country skiers in this country, who make skiing their full-time job, though few make any actual money doing this) were there.There were over 300 skiers at this event. Its primary purpose is to select the international teams (e.g. Junior World Championship Team) for upcoming events and to promote a few athletes to the world cup.Sadie and Eric Bjornsen had already earned their right to start the next period at the World Cup level by being the US SuperTour (continental cup) leaders coming into this event. Both Ski for the US Ski Team (Sadie on the “B” team, and Eric on the Development Team) and APU (the club affiliated with Alaska Pacific University, not an actual college team).